Opals Looking to Challenge USA for the Gold on London

The Australian Opals have started their preparation early as they bid give their bitter rivals USA a run for the gold medal in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics.

The Opals have already started their training camp at the Australian Institute of Sports earlier than planned, which their earliest preparation in recent years for an Olympic event, hoping to get the right mix of players to make a huge impact in London this year.

“This is definitely giving us a little bit of an advantage as far as getting our chemistry,” said Opals star Lauren Jackson, who has been playing well after recovering from various injuries for the past few years. “We haven’t ever really been together before the Olympics like this, and now with the quality of players that we have, this is the most important thing, just to make sure that we know each other well and play together well.”

Jackson and the Opals vowed to do their best to erase the notion that they are the second-best to USA and are looking to get the gold despite the fact that it is a gargantuan task for them.

“It’s my top priority,” said Jackson on winning the Olympic gold medal for Australia. “It’s the only thing I haven’t achieved in my career, and it’s turned out to the hardest.”

The WNBA superstar, who has been a key figure for the Opals for the past international tournaments, has been serious in preparing for the Olympic and even asked for a leave from his WNBA squad, the Seattle Storm, for the first three months of the season to focus on the Opals.

However, their road to the gold medal will be a little bit harder and will need extra effort for they will be playing without one of their stars, Penny Taylor, who won’t make it to London because of an ACL injury.

“She’s a great player who has been instrumental to this program, but we have to find a way to compensate for her not being here,” said Jackson on losing Taylor. “We have a lot of talent.”

Without Taylor, youngsters like Liz Cambage, who had a decent rookie season in the WNBA, and Jenna O’Hea are expected to get a lot of exposure for the Opals in London two months from now.

Australia was drawn in group B and will go up against Russia, Brazil, host Great Britain and two more qualifiers from the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

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